As Operations Director at Children North East, Michele Deans is very involved in what is going on with the fundraising team and was very excited earlier in the year when we launched a Hadrian’s Wall Virtual Challenge as part of our 130th anniversary celebrations. In this blog, she tells us how because she has enjoyed ‘walking the Wall’ so much, she’s decided to do the length of it all over again!
Walking was a big part of my life growing up. We didn’t have a car and limited public transport in the area I grew up meant that I had to walk the five mile round-trip to school daily. This never bothered me, but as I got older, got a job and learned how to drive, walking took the back seat and I must admit, even short walking journeys were taken by car.
But all that was to change in December 2019 when we adopted a gorgeous and excitable little Westie with lots of energy that we named Dolly (she is as feisty as Dolly Parton). Suddenly I had to walk, a lot, and I began to enjoy it! When lockdown came in March 2020, I found that at the end of the day, walking around our local park was part of my routine and this has continued, except the walks have got longer, more challenging and I have felt my physical health improving and of course my mental health has been boosted too.
The virtual Hadrian’s Wall Challenge presented me with focus and I have loved every minute of it and the little trips we have taken. There were a couple of reasons why I wanted to do this, first and foremost, I am passionate and committed to the work that we do and wanted to get involved in something I knew I could do and that I knew friends and family would sponsor me for. Also, I knew my little pal ‘Dolly’ would become my companion on my virtual Hadrian’s Wall walks.
On March 1, I signed up to the fundraising app ‘GivePenny’ and the activity tracking app Strava (to make sure I could keep an accurate record of my kilometres) and I started my long walks. By mid-May I had completed the walking challenge – 130 kilometers – but I wasn’t quite finished. I thought a real challenge for me was to walk there and back, so to date I have completed 244 kilometers and I am pretty sure I will get to 260 by the weekend.
By mid-May when the weather started to improve, we took off to other areas of the North East, completing long walks from Craster to Dustanburgh, in Northumberland along with more miles around Seahouses and Bamburgh and Barnard Castle in Teesdale. Then last weekend we took off to Twice Brewed, near Haydon Bridge, to walk some of the actual Hadrian’s Wall itself.
The simplicity of GivePenny has been brilliant and, as I suspected, family and friends have been generous. In fact I am about to reach £200 in donations which will go in some way to supporting our services.
And I’m not planning to stop now….I am looking to find another walking challenge to keep me going. I’d recommend the Challenge to anyone of moderate fitness – you can clock up the miles however you want to, in your local neighbourhood, or if you have access to transport, it’s a good excuse to get out and enjoy our beautiful countryside. In fact, while you’re out there, you could even take some photographs and enter the Children North East 2022 Calendar Competition!